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Three responses of wetland conditions to climatic extremes in the Prairie Pothole Region

September 19, 2016

Wetlands in central North Dakota were revisited after 50 years to assess changes following extreme drought and a prolonged wet period. We compared data collected during 1961–1966 to current (2013–2014) wetland conditions. We revisited 80 wetlands in 2013 and 2014 across three study areas and measured wetland area, ponded-water depth, and specific conductance. Wetlands at the three study areas responded to prolonged wet conditions in one of three ways. Wetlands at Crystal Springs became larger, and had deeper ponds of lower specific conductance in 2013–14 compared to the 1960s. Wetlands at Cottonwood were larger with deeper ponds of slightly higher specific conductance in 2013–2014. Wetlands at Mt. Moriah had only subtle changes in size, pond depth, and specific conductance between periods. Prolonged wet conditions led to merging of most wetlands (defined as the outer edge of wet-meadow vegetation) at Crystal Springs and a few wetlands at Cottonwood. Low topographic relief at Crystal Springs and Cottonwood contributed to storage of excess water in wetlands with associated responses to prolonged wet conditions. In contrast, higher topographic relief and natural outlets into two intermittent streams at Mt. Moriah resulted in wetlands being less impacted by prolonged wet conditions.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Three responses of wetland conditions to climatic extremes in the Prairie Pothole Region
DOI 10.1007/s13157-016-0818-8
Authors Ryann L. Cressey, Jane E. Austin, Joshua D. Stafford
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Wetlands
Series Number
Index ID 70176502
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center